Substance in breastmilk kills cancer cells

April 16, 2010. Posted in: Blog Posts

We’ve known about this for some time (looks like the first paper was published in 1995) but it’s always amazing to read about.

Substance in breast milk kills cancer cells

A substance found in breast milk can kill cancer cells, reveal studies carried out by researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg.

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

The new study: Mossberg AK, et al. HAMLET interacts with lipid membranes and perturbs their structure and integrity. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 23;5(2):e9384.

One researcher’s website: Breast-feeding, HAMLET, and cancer